Of the seven billion people on this planet, two billion use Facebook at least once a month. Each day, Facebook has more than a billion unique visitors. Its groups functionality attracts users with all sorts of niche interests and talents, and its ads platform has some of the most comprehensive targeting options among social media sites. In the United States, the average person spends 40 minutes a day on Facebook. Around the world, Facebook processes more than 4 million status updates, images, and comments every minute. What better place to spread your employer brand and try to source qualified job candidates for your company?
Let’s pause for a second. In almost any discussion of Facebook, we have to bring up “The Algorithm”, i.e. the curation program that Facebook uses to determine who will be shown what piece of content at what moment. If, over the past few years, you’ve noticed that it’s become harder to earn organic reach with your posts, that’s because of broad changes to Facebook’s algorithm that make posts by businesses less likely to appear in the newsfeeds of regular users. Though this ostensibly improves the user experience, it does make things harder even for businesses that are following established best practices for reaching their target audiences organically.
When deciding whether or not to display your content even to people who have already liked your page, Facebook is interested in a few things: how many likes, comments, or shares does the content have, and how relevant is it to the people who would see it if they increased its viewership? It's because of this infamous algorithm that it's extremely difficult to succeed at reaching a large audience on Facebook without leveraging at least a small ads budget. For that reason, the first part of this guide will focus largely on the nature of Facebook advertising and best practices for their use.
Of course, it’s not just the shear volume of users and activity that make Facebook a worthwhile destination for sourcing job candidates. Rather, it’s their ads platform, and all of the features and options that it gives users for targeting, placing, and optimizing their messaging. Yes, the demographic targeting is extremely granular (meaning that recruiters can easily target individuals with very particular skills or interests within a short radius of their offices), but it also allows users to target potential candidates from their own existing contact lists, and, taking it one step further, will help you to create “lookalike” audiences that match many of the characteristics of your existing contacts.
In addition to these targeting options, Facebook gives advertisers the choice to run a “remarketing” campaign, which displays your content specifically to users who have visited your website or engaged with your brand on Facebook previously. In traditional sales, this has proven to be an effective method of moving potential customers through the buyer’s journey more quickly. When it comes to recruitment marketing, it can be just as useful. By targeting potential applicants who have already shown that they have some interest in and familiarity with your employer brand, you further establish yourself in their minds as potential employment destination. As these users continue to encounter your brand after that first touch, your employer value proposition (EVP) becomes more firmly associated with your company and even passive job seekers (who comprise 80% of the job market) will begin to envision themselves working at your company.
In addition to providing recruitment marketers with sophisticated targeting options, Facebook also supports a variety of different ad formats, including:
Carousel ads (a rotation of images or videos, each one with a different link—these ads, along with videos, tend to have the best engagement rates)
Canvas ads (which are optimised for full-screen, mobile experiences)
There are other types as well, but these are some of the most important for recruiters. Each one gives companies a different option for telling a story in pictures, videos, and text about their employer brand. As you sketch out your Facebook recruitment marketing strategy and goals (more on that in a minute), you can begin to get a sense of what type of ad format might be appropriate to those goals. If, for instance, you’re targeting multiple job types to the same basic demographic, a carousel ad might enable you to let your audience self-select the appropriate position for their respective interests or experience levels. If you’re specifically targeting mobile users (a tactic that might be efficacious if you’re trying to reach more millennials), a canvas ad might be the ideal format.
Each of these formats will have different technical specifications, but in general your ad is going to consist of visual assets plus a headline, a short body of text, and a link with a short link description. For photo and video ads, you’ll have 125 characters to describe your position or spread your employment branding, plus a 25 character headline and a 30 character link description. For carousel ads, it’s a 40 character headline and a 20 character link description.
Hold on—are employer ads really the be-all and end-all of employer branding on Facebook? Of course not! Any successful recruitment campaign using this platform should be grounded in an existing Facebook presence (involving, ideally, both a corporate page and careers page, with distinct and regular content coming from each) that highlights the unique aspects that make your company a desirable place to work. That said, the era of dependable organic Facebook reach has been over for some time now. Like it or not, the only way to get your content in front of your audience in a reliable way is to leverage at least a small ads budget. But don’t despair! A little can go a long way in terms of supporting your larger employer branding efforts.
So, how should Facebook connect to your broader attempts at candidate sourcing and positioning your business as an employment destination? Essentially, your Facebook careers page (separate from your customer-facing page) should be a place where you can highlight your EVP through links, pictures, videos, and other content that relates to your employer brand. It can also serves as a means of communication with potential future applicants, who can reach out to you via comments and direct messages and with whom you can communicate proactively in a way that provides value and builds trust. This represents an opportunity to foster a sense of community that mimics the community you aspire to provide in your business environments.
Crucially, your employer branding efforts should reflect your current recruiting goals. If you’re at a stage where increasing awareness of your employer brand is the key to laying the seeds for future growth, you might want to optimize your strategy to maximize impressions. Conversely, if you have specific positions that need to be filled, you might be more interested in tailoring your content to maximize click-through rate or to generate leads. Maximizing leads is in part a matter of having clean, easy-to-use landing pages and a generally smooth candidate experience, but it’s also an area where Facebook ads can really help to support your existing branding efforts. In fact, when you create an ad, Facebook will ask you what you want to optimize for. A few possible objectives are:
There are some others, but these will be the most relevant for recruitment purposes. This is where the alignment between your goals and your efforts becomes crucial. You can lower your cost-per-click on Facebook’s platform by promoting content with a high relevance score relative to the interests of your targeted audience. By choosing the right goal, the right audience, and the right distillation of your employer brand and EVP, you can increase the relevance of your post and thereby decrease your cost-per-click.
The sheer volume of users currently on Facebook means that you’re more or less guaranteed to reach both passive and active job seekers when you’re promoting your employer brand or hiring for any open positions. Anyone whom you might have had a chance of reaching on traditional job boards is likely to be using Facebook regularly anyway, while the 80% of candidates who are not actively job seeking at any given time are also using the platform daily, and could be convinced to switch jobs if they repeatedly encountered your brand and began to think of your business as a top employment destination. We've seen some of the nitty-gritty details about Facebook's system, but the question remains: how exactly do you leverage that system into strong recruitment marketing?
As we alluded to above, one of the most striking facets of Facebook’s digital ad infrastructure is its targeting capabilities. Advertisers can select the audience they want for each individual ad based on geography, age, and the interests, education, and other information listed on audience members’ profiles. This means that if you’re trying to hire employees for a job at an office in San Jose, you can tell Facebook to show your ad only to those within a 25 mile radius of your office building. On a more granular level, if you’re trying to hire developers who are proficient in C++, you could potentially target users who list C++ or related programming languages as interests. Of course, if you your requirements exclude too many people, your ads won’t perform well, but there is a wide range of audience sizes in which Facebook can get your employer brand in front of your target audience at a relatively efficient price per impression.
Of course, this raises the question of how exactly you should go about doing your targeting. As we saw above, some of this process will come down to obvious factors like geography, but as you get more granular in your approach you should consider your employee personas for each open position. What type of background or interests would your ideal job candidate have? What elements of your company’s EVP would line up with his or her Facebook habits? Consider what traits he or she might have, but try not to exclude too many people—your perfect hire might not conform exactly to your expectations.
Once you’ve targeted your ad to match your candidate personas, it’s time to think about the composition of the ad itself. For some of you this might seem like it goes without saying, but one of the first things to do is make sure that your ad has a striking, eye-catching image that conveys something about your employer brand and your employer value proposition (EVP). This might be a shot of some employees having fun at a recent corporate event, or something that relates to the kind of work that your company does. Studies have shown that people are more likely to engage with content that has appealing visuals. This means not just selecting the right photo, but ensuring that it’s cropped and sized correctly. While a standard Facebook post image should be around 940 x 788, a sidebar ad image might be more like 1200 x 628. This may seem like it would require a lot of technical work to accomplish, but luckily there are tools that recruitment marketers can use to perfect their images quickly and easily.
In some ways the image attached to your ad will be its focal point, but your copy is just as important when it comes to projecting a strong employer brand and enticing candidates to apply for a position at your company. Don’t be afraid of being informal, especially if your workplace is relatively laid back. And definitely don’t be afraid of keeping things brief. One or two sentences with a clear call to action (“apply now,” or a variation on that theme) is all you really need. If you’re advertising for a specific position, make sure to include a link that directs applicants straight to a clear, usable landing page for that position. If your ad is of a more generalized stripe (more on that in just a second), then you can link to your corporate careers page or your Facebook career page (if you have one—more on that below). In this way, you ensure that applicants don’t drop out of the process because they’re confused about how to apply or what actions to take next.
You may have noticed above that we presented both the possibility of advertising for a particular job and posting a more general ad not directed at a specific position. Why would a recruiter pay money to advertise anything other than an open position that needs filling? Because Facebook recruitment is most effective when companies leverage their employer brand continuously in order to build a stronger talent pipeline. Thus, while Facebook is a useful platform for filling individual positions, more generalized ads that simply familiarize potential candidates with your employer brand and encourage them to stay in touch (by following your Facebook or other social media page, opting into an e-mail list, or any other means of enticing them into your recruitment funnel) can help you to speed up your recruiting efforts in the long run. Rather than starting from scratch each time you have a new position to fill, by marketing continuously you can drum up steady interest and develop a pre-existing base of interested applicants who will apply as soon as your next opening comes along.
As in the case of all things Facebook, the goal of recruitment efforts is engagement. Rather than likes or shares (though, if you’re boosting or promoting posts these are still important), your efforts will be measured in terms of how many users click on your link, and how many of those clicks turn into submitted applications. Even if you’re filling positions relatively quickly, “extra” applications only translate into a stronger talent pipeline. Crucially, it's only by tracking the effects of your employer branding and job advertising that you can uncover potential issues with your recruitment funnel. Are you getting a high number of impressions but relatively few clicks? It may mean that your ads themselves aren’t speaking to your target demographics. Do you have a high number of clicks but a low apply rate? You may need to tweak your applicant experience to keep people from dropping out of your funnel. Whatever the results, it’s crucial to track your efforts over time, so that you can maintain flexible and adaptable in your Facebook recruiting efforts.
We alluded very briefly above to the idea of having a Facebook career page that's separate from your standard corporate page, with a focus on your employer brand and company culture. Maintaining a separate page for this purpose is another best practice for Facebook recruitment marketing, but it's sufficiently complex that it warrants its own section. But why, exactly, is this separation important, and how does it help your broader recruitment efforts?
Essentially, it all comes back to the algorithm. If you’re posting a mix of recruitment marketing and traditional marketing content on your corporate Facebook page, any given post is likely to be relevant only to a segment of your audience. Sure, there are people who are interested in your company both as potential applicants and as consumers (and those people’s perception of your employer brand will affect their buying habits), but let’s assume that the majority of your followers aren’t. That means that each piece of employer branding content will be irrelevant to the consumer segment of your follower base, and vice versa—and Facebook will penalize you for that by showing your posts to fewer people.
Given the difficulty of optimizing one page to reach two different audiences, most larger companies have adopted the strategy of utilizing a separate page for their employer branding. In this way, it's possible to create an audience that consists exclusively of Facebook users who are interested in learning more about your corporate culture, mission, and values, meaning that Facebook will deem your posts to be more relevant than they would be if they were targeted towards both potential buyers and potential applicants. The result, if you’re posting quality content, should be improved reach and engagement for both pages. This division of audiences will be especially crucial when it comes to advertisements and sponsored posts. Because Facebook gives businesses the option of targeting posts specifically to users who already follow or have engaged with your page, a more segmented audience can actually make your advertising more effective in terms of both cost (since Facebook’s price per click is determined in part by a “relevance score”) and lead generation. In this way, a separate career page helps to support the advertising workflows and best practices we've outlined above.
So, let’s say you’re interested in creating a standalone career page on Facebook. How do you get started? Essentially, the goal here is to share your company culture in a way that’s consistent with your employer branding, so that potential applicants can begin to envision what their day-to-day lives would be like working at your company (which, not coincidentally, is one of the top hurdles that candidates face in deciding where to work). This means that much of the focus of your posts should be on your team. Do you have photos of team members having fun at a recent company event? Post 'em! What about pictures of people engaged in the type of work that they love doing, or employees learning from one another’s expertise? Share those too!
Again, the exact nature of what you post will be based on your employer brand and your employee value proposition (EVP). If your EVP is based in part on a cool, futuristic office space, you should present your audience with a lot of photos of that space, along with quotes from your employees on what it’s like to work there or what went into the office design. Conversely, if you’re attracting new recruits based on the chance to work closely with more experienced team members, present an image of two of your employees working in tandem. While visual content like photos and videos will form the backbone of your content strategy, it’s also useful to highlight some of your employees’ stories with testimonials and similar content.
Remember: the best thing you can do is provide your audience with value. Yes, you’re trying to spread your employer brand, but you don’t want to come off as pushy, or seem like you’re only interested in making a sales pitch to potential employees. Consider offering helpful tips and information about your interview process, along with insight about what you look for in a candidate. Applicants appreciate transparency in the hiring process and also want to be prepared, so there’s no reason to be coy about what an ideal employee looks like to you.
By giving information that will help them later down the line, you provide your followers with something of tangible value in exchange for their attention. The same goes for sharing links to articles with helpful insight into job hunting or career development from third party sources. Naturally, you should share any exciting, employment related news and articles from your company’s end, but if you’re posting multiple times a day (which you should be to maximize results), you’re going to want a lot of variety in your content.
If you're following all of the other advertising best practices outlined above, Facebook can be a huge asset in your attempts to source qualified applicants and build a strong, winning team. Given the tremendous number of people that can be targeted on Facebook, it's an obvious choice for trying to extend the reach of your employer brand. Hopefully by following our guide you can source candidates faster and more efficiently while simultaneously boosting your larger employer branding strategy.